The Social Edition is our weekly series which deep dives into luxury initiatives in China’s social media landscape. Every week, we highlight brand campaigns distributed on Chinese digital platforms — WeChat, Weibo, Tmall, Douyin, and beyond.
Our coverage spotlights global luxury brands, global beauty brands, and local Chinese brands. The latter gives insight into some of China’s most successful campaigns, which often come from local players, and are outside of the beauty and fashion space.
In this week’s roundup, we look at three campaigns, including the launch of SK-II STUDIO, Chinese menswear brand LILANZ’s twist on business wear, and YSL Beauty’s announcement of its new brand ambassador.
SK-II Launches a New Film Studio to Explore Brand Storytelling
PLATFORMS Weibo, WeChat, Tmall
On March 24, the P&G-owned Japanese cosmetics brand SK-II announced the launch of SK-II STUDIO, its new film studio, with a mission to explore the current social pressures and challenges faced by women. The studio plans to release eight short films this year. The first one, “The Center Lane,” was directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, the well-known Japanese director and Palme d’Or winner, and released on March 29. It tells the destiny-changing story of a Japanese swimmer, Rikako Ikee.
The ten minute short film and the campaign hashtag #SK-IIstudio has received 333,000 and 3.14 million views, respectively, on Weibo. A post by the Chinese celebrity author Jiang Fangzhou, which shared her takes on the campaign film, has also garnered extensive engagement and comments on the narrative and visual language of the film. Overall, the film resonated greatly with female audiences; however, there were a few negative comments like: “It’s creating and disseminating anxiety instead of social significance.”
Previously, SK-II’s capability of localized storytelling has been proven effective via campaign films like “She went to the blind date corner” and “Why didn’t they go home for the New Year,” which both touch on the societal pressures to get married faced by many Chinese females. Given that the brand is presenting social issues via a personal narrative, the campaign films have been successful at engaging dialogues among female communities and driving substantial social traffic. Also, as Chinese audiences have shown a keen interest in campaign films dealing with female issues, fashion and beauty brands are now expected to explore consumers’ psychological needs beyond simply presenting product features and promotions. And though the sales conversion of medium-to-long films may be not as strong as short-videos or images, this type of film helps consolidate a brand’s image and amass loyal customers, which is ultimately the point.
Chinese Menswear Brand LILANZ Goes Business Casual
PLATFORMS Weibo, WeChat
MEDIUM Image, Short-video
Chinese menswear brand LILANZ partnered with XinShiXiang, a new media brand, to launch a short film titled, “A Flower Will Break Through the Soil.” The campaign documented five working males: Han Han, the founder of Tingdong Pictures and LILANZ’s brand ambassador; Ding Hui, a young legal worker; Gao Xiaoxu, a pet industry practitioner; Li Zhixin, a 2020 graduate; and Ye Lin, the chairman of Hubei Xiangyang Textile Factory. Their respective stories focused on their aspirations and how they had to overcome various challenges in the workplace.
The 13-minute short film has received over 3.6 million views and a host of positive comments on Weibo, as the featured topic resonated well with today’s younger generation of workers. Meanwhile, the campaign also featured a collaboration with the local media outlet China Daily to launch the hashtag #HowToday’
The 34-year-old menswear label has looked to rebrand since its partnership with China Daily last year, which focused on the power of a break-through spirit. The value proposition has become the core of the brand’s communication strategy. Through tapping the hustle and bustle of workplace culture, LILANZ has taken a positive approach to connecting with local young male consumers.
YSL Beauty’s Unstereotypical Brand Ambassador
BRAND YSL Beauty
PLATFORMS WeChat, Weibo, Tmall, Douyin
MEDIUM Image, Short-video
FEATURED TALENTS Li Yuchun (14M Weibo Followers)
On March 31, YSL Beauty announced that Chinese female singer Li Yuchun would be its cosmetics and skincare brand ambassador. The brand launched a 40-second short-video to showcase her take on what defines beauty. The campaign hopes to break the stereotypical female image and instead celebrate the avant-garde and forward-looking aesthetics embodied in the brand legacy of Yves Saint Laurent.
The campaign video and the announcement campaign hashtag have received over 5.2 million and 240 million views, respectively, on Weibo within two days. Li Yuchun’s fans have also shared their purchases on Weibo, tagging the campaign as a way of showcasing their support for the idol’s collaboration with Yves Saint Laurent. Many commented that Li’s personality and appearance matched perfectly with the brand’s identity.
YSL Beauty’s ambassador appointment reflects how today’s beauty shoppers are embracing diversity as opposed to polished faces with idealized features. Li Yuchun’s appearance, which has been tagged as gender-neutral in China, resonates with this shift. Moreover, her journey from an idol to a singer-songwriter to an actress is consistent with the unorthodox and bold spirit that the brand looks to communicate via the campaign.